Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Campaign response: Will the government meet cycling and walking targets?

    Some constituents have recently written to me regarding the "need for further investment, to enable local authorities to implement the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) that many of them are preparing, as requested by the Department for Transport".
    The benefits of encouraging walking and cycling are numerous - they play an important role in a healthy and active lifestyle and help to reduce carbon emissions.
    I am glad that Robert Courts MP and Stephen Morgan MP were able to secure a debate in Parliament about this issue recently, and that in his response the Minister Jesse Norman acknowledged that the Government has to “significantly, dramatically, potentially double or more that rate of intervention,” to deliver the annual spending target on cycling and walking of £7 per person in England outside London.
    I want to see more people choose to walk, run or cycle for shorter journeys. I am a strong supporter of existing routes such as the Clay Trails and Pentewan Valley trails, and want to see these grow as well as new schemes like the Newquay to Perranporth route which has recently funding from Highway England.

 As a member of the Commons Transport Select Committee I will be more than happy to relay the concerns of constituents to the new Transport Secretary and ask them to provide the funding and plans necessary to ensure that the Government meets its commitment on walking and cycling.

Campaign response: Please Scrap HS2

Thank you to constituents who have recently contacted me about their concerns about HS2.

I fully appreciate the strength of feeling on this issue.

HS2 is fundamentally about increasing the capacity of our busy railways – HS2 will be lead to almost 15,000 seats an hour on trains between London and the cities of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – three times the current capacity.

If we are to invest in creating a new line, there is no reason why we should not opt for the latest and fastest trains that deliver the best efficiency for taxpayers.

But there has been a significant amount of unnecessary delays to the project.

I am also very concerned about the increasing costs and if it is deliverable in its current form.

I would support a review to assess whether HS2 is the very best option we have to modernise our railways and increase capacity.

Column 31 July 2019 - Our new Prime Minister

Parliament has now risen for the Summer Recess. I am looking forward to spending time in Mid-Cornwall out and about visiting as many people as possible in order to continue to understand the local and national issues that are important to you as well over August.

Last week was an interesting and important one in Parliament and for the whole country.

On Tuesday we saw the outcome of the Conservative Party leadership contest, with Boris Johnson elected and subsequently becoming Prime Minister the next day.   It was good to see a high turnout from voters as well as Boris getting a clear majority – winning by 2 to 1.

Boris now has a clear mandate from the Party following this contest and it is now time for the Conservative Party, both in Parliament and across the UK to unite behind the leader we have chosen and deliver for our country.

In Parliament on Thursday we saw, in his first statement to the House of Commons, the fresh direction and positive leadership he has brought.

Of course the big issue of the day continues to be Brexit, and Boris has committed to getting Brexit done by 31st October, with a great new deal for Britain. But he has also been clear that Britain needs to be prepared for a no deal, as the best way to get a great new deal.

It’s not just about Brexit though, and there are a number of other policies Boris has that I share his enthusiasm for.

First is the hiring of 20,000 new police officers and giving them the powers to keep our streets safe.
Properly funding our schools so that every child gets more guaranteed minimum funding, regardless of where they live.

Making sure people start seeing the £20 billion in new NHS funding, cutting down GP waiting times, and continuing investing in local hospitals.

All of this underpinned by delivering a strong economy to fund the public services we all rely on.
I was particularly pleased to see he has confirmed support for rural areas among all of this, to ensure places like Cornwall have their traditional funding inequalities addressed.

I look forward to working with our new Prime Minister to continue to ensure the voice of Mid-Cornwall is heard loud and clear in Westminster.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Monday, 29 July 2019

Campaign response - We need a fair and effective asylum system - please act

Thank you to constituents who have recently contacted me regarding our asylum system.

I have received a copy of Refugee Action's recent report " Waiting in the Dark: how the asylum system dehumanises, disempowers and damages , makes plain the human impact of a hostile asylum process" and have met with representatives from Refugee Action, Refugee Council and other charities working with asylum seekers and refugees to discuss their concerns about our asylum system, many of which I share. 

As vice-chair for the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Refugee and Migration, I have previously questioned ministers on our current policy on refusing asylum seeker their right to work after the six-month waiting period, and have also raised the issue of legal aid, ESOL and other essential provisions for those who are genuinely seeking sanctuary in our country for fear of persecution, war or violence.

We need an asylum system that is not only fair and robust but also is compassionate on the most vulnerable and in need of protection.

I hope to meet the new Home Secretary soon when Parliament returns and when I do so I will be sure to convey to her the points constituents have raised.

Campaign response: Hey Steve 🙋...

Some constituents have recently written to me with their concerns about a no deal Brexit and the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit.

Ideally we would have left the EU with a favourable deal by now. I understand the natural concerns around the implications of no deal Brexit, and my preferred position remains to be that we leave with a better deal that neither undermines the integrity of the union nor leave us in a position where we are locked in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

I know that the new Prime Ministers has his concerns about no deal and that his preferred position is also that we leave with a deal on 31 October.

However I have also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal. There is a lot of scaremongering going on by some, but I believe that whatever the outcome the UK will not only cope by thrive outside of the EU. I am pleased to see that the Government is continuously making the public aware of the preparations that have been put in place for a no deal outcome should it be necessary. Indeed, should Parliament continue to fail to agree on a Deal, then No Deal is the default legal position.

A great deal of work has already taken place to prepare for a no deal Brexit and it would be wrong to present this as some sort of cliff edge we are not prepared for. Only recently Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary, said that “we have got the government in pretty good shape and public services in pretty good shape for no deal”. The new Prime Minister has also announced that he is instructing Whitehall to ramp up no deal preparations.       

What we need right now, above all, is the political will and courage from both sides of the channel to return to the table and seek a more agreeable deal. Otherwise we must reserve the right to walk away from the table. Taking away the option of leaving without a deal would greatly undermine our ability to drive a hard bargain with our European counterparts.

We are living in uniquely challenging political times. We face a political crisis. Boris is the right leader for us in this moment, not only in delivering Brexit but also preventing the very real threat of an extreme left-wing government under Jeremy Corbyn. 

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Campaign reply - Westminster Hall Debate on the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act

I have recently been contacted by constituents asking me to attend a Westminster Hall Debate on the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act on 25 July.

Increased awareness and support for mental health conditions is an area I am very interested in and one where I am pleased to have seen the Government take significant steps with in recent years.

However I am unable to go to this particular debate as I have already committed to travel home to Cornwall for other events booked previously, at that time.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention though, and I will continue to support efforts to increase awareness and help manage mental health conditions in the future.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Newspaper column 24 July 2019 - Attendance fines

This week is the last week Parliament sits before Summer Recess. I am certainly looking forward to a few weeks at home in Cornwall and being able to spend time in the constituency. I plan to be out and about as much as possible, visiting businesses, attending events and meeting local people.  

Before then though, it promises to be an interesting week. As I write this we are awaiting the announcement of the new Prime Minister. As I have said previously, I am backing Boris Johnson, but we will know what the result of the vote is very soon. I will write more on the outcome of this next week.

In common with Parliament breaking up for Recess, this week also sees most of the schools in Cornwall also ending their summer terms and going on a well-earned holiday.

The end of term and approaching summer holidays once again highlighted to me the issue of the policy of fining parents for unauthorised absences for holidays taken during term time.
This is a policy I have long campaigned against, since before I was an MP.

The changes to school attendance rules have seen parents being told they should not take their children out of school during term time and risk being fined if they do. This has led to families not going on holiday during the traditional ‘shoulder months’ of the tourist industry and being effectively priced out of going on holiday during the summer months. This has also affected the revenue of many tourist related businesses in Cornwall, as well as stopping many Cornish parents who work in the tourist industry and other sectors like some of our local public services, who cannot take holiday during the peak season, from having a family holiday.

As well as continually raising this issue in Parliament and calling for the Government to scrap this policy, I have also been keeping a close eye locally on how Cornwall Council enforces it.

I was concerned earlier this month to see that, following Freedom of Information requests made, that Cornwall issued 685 fines to date for 2018/19 compared to 377 for the 2017/18 year. These are huge increases from the figures for 2015/16, when 5 fines were issued, and 2016/17 when just 4 were issued.

I am very concerned about these figures and the undoubted impact they will have on hard-working parents, whose only option is often to take their children away during term time due to the seasonal nature of working in Cornwall.

It is disappointing, given the challenges of our often seasonal and tourist-based economy in Cornwall, that these fines continue to rise, and also it clearly shows that they are simply not working as a deterrent.

There is also the issue about how these attendance targets are impacting on the mental health of our children. Last week in Parliament on a debate on children and mental health services, I raised how worried I am about the impact of refusing authorised absence on pupils’ mental health.

Parents in Mid-Cornwall have told me they are struggling to get the school to support them as a family when they needed to take pupils out of school because of mental health issues. Pressure on families is being driven by a heavy-handed approach from Ofsted in meeting attendance targets and putting unrealistic expectations on our teachers who do an excellent job but are being forced into unnecessary conflict with families because of this policy.

I will continue to highlight this issue, which is one relevant to Cornwall all year round, and campaign for change to take place in the future.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Campaign reply - “Immediate course of action.”

Some constituents have sent me a campaign email entitled, “Immediate course of action.”

It sets out a number of scenarios following the appointment of Boris Johnson as leader of the  Conservative party and Prime Minister and suggests the options available. It also makes obscure reference to Mrs May having “purposely spiked the leaving process”. Whatever else was wrong with that deal, her motivation was never as suggested here.

I see things very differently to the formulated scenarios set out. We must allow Boris to form his government and then bring the courage and leadership we so desperately need to find a way forward. He has been plain speaking in his criteria for seeing Brexit happen and I firmly believe he intends to follow that through to a conclusion – deal or no deal.

I will continue to support Boris as our best hope of seeing us leave the EU and am ready for him to exercise his considerable skill to that end. He must not and will not be tied down by anyone else’s agenda.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Campaign response - Make human rights history in Northern Ireland

Thank you to constituents who recently contacted me regarding the amendments on abortion and same-sex marriage to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill.

I understand how important issues like abortion and marriage are to many people.

But I believe the vote was about an equally important issue – that is whether or not we respect the devolution settlement for Northern Ireland.

I accept the position in England and Wales on same sex marriage and abortion has been put in place through a democratic process in Parliament. However, these legislations did not cover Northern Ireland.

Certain areas of legislation in Northern Ireland have been devolved since the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 as a result of the Good Friday Agreement.

Marriage and abortion laws in Northern Ireland is a devolved policy issue and should be for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives to decide on. I do not believe it is for me to impose my views in matters that have been devolved to the Northern Irish Assembly. 

Therefore, in my view the UK Parliament is not the place to undermine Northern Ireland’s devolved status by imposing any change to their laws regarding marriage or abortion.

I am concerned that by imposing this on Northern Ireland we are undermining the status of the devolution agreement which may now have set a dangerous precedent.

I can only imagine the outcry in Cornwall if having given responsibility for certain matters over to local authorities we then saw Westminster overruling and imposing their views on us.

It should be for the people of Northern Ireland to decide for themselves whether they would like to introduce same-sex marriage or liberalise abortion in Northern Ireland, through a vote in Stormont when power-sharing is restored or a referendum. If these issues in Northern Ireland are important to the people there, then they will elect people to represent them that will introduce it. That is how this decision should be made, not by politicians in Westminster.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Newspaper column 17 July 2019 - Treliske incident

Early last week a "critical incident" was declared at Treliske Hospital, which was struggling to cope with "extreme pressure" on its services.

The hospital urged people to avoid visiting its emergency department if at all possible as a result of the high demand and re-arranged non-critical appointments in order to deal with the issue. Although this is the first time the hospital has had to declare this status for over a year, it is always concerning when our local NHS services are unable to meet the demand placed on them.

Soon afterwards, along with the other Cornish MPs I met with the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock to raise our concerns regarding this situation.  I was reassured by his assessment that everything necessary was being done by the hospital staff to address and resolve the situation as soon as possible. And it was good to get a better understanding of the causes of the pressures, which were largely due to a severe outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea in Cornwall.

The Secretary of State’s office subsequently worked with NHS England and NHS Improvement to take actions to improve the situation.

These included bringing in additional clinical staff including nurses, doctors and therapists for support; Setting up local community hospitals as sub-acute units; extending Acute GP hours from 18.30 to midnight in RCHT; and a full review of all medically fit and none medically fit patients took place to ensure they were in the right place.

On Thursday the alert was stood down, however the additional measures will remain in place to ensure Treliske is well prepared for the summer holidays, which always provide additional pressures on these services.

The NHS in Cornwall is resilient and received a significant increase in funding in April this year which it will continue to receive in the coming years, as well as extra capital funding in December last year. However, we need to be clear that this is not primarily a funding issue. Cornwall’s NHS is receiving record levels of funding. It is how about the funds made available are used and how resources are allocated in order to support the staff at Treliske who do a tremendous job all year round. Another significant factor is also how health services integrate with social care to ensure patients are discharged appropriately in a timely manner.

I hope the measures taken to help resolve the issue from last week will continue to be incorporated into treatment and care arrangements going forward and will continue to work with colleagues both locally and in Westminster to ensure Cornwall gets its fair share of funding and resource now and in the future.

Long term I do believe we need to look at our urgent care requirements in Cornwall to ensure local services can meet the growing demands of our population. I believe we need to consider all options for the future, including whether there is a need for a new, additional hospital, as well as making the most of the facilities we already have.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Campaign reply - “Nature needs you - help shape the Environment Bill.”

A number of constituents have written to me with an email entitled “Nature needs you - help shape the Environment Bill.”

There is a growing concern over our environment and I welcome growing public awareness of the issues we face. I have long since been a supporter of various environmental  groups and welcome further interest.

I am proud that a great deal of work has and is being done in this space by Government. It’s an agenda I have been particularly involved with and I wanted to share some of the progress with you. While there have been great strides forward I recognise that there is much more to do and the urgency of going even further is vital.

Importantly, the Government has committed to leaving the environment in a better state than we found it and the 25 Year Environment Plan sets out a framework to enable this. It includes tackling the scourge of plastic, delivering cleaner air and water and crucially using the opportunity Brexit provides to develop our own bespoke agricultural and fisheries policies with a more sustainable focus.

Key Environmental achievements:

•         Banning plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products; these include face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels. Just one shower was sending 100,000 microbeads down the drain and into the ocean, causing serious harm to marine life).
•         Ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds and a deposit return scheme for single-use plastics that is underway and subject to consultation.
•         Introducing a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags: This has reduced their use by 85% - with each person on average now using 25 bags a year compared to 140 before the charge came into effect.
•         Doubling the maximum fine for littering to £150: For the first time, local authorities can also use these littering penalties against vehicle owners if it can be proved litter was thrown from their car.
•         Our Resources & Waste strategy: will end confusion over recycling and tackle problem packaging by making polluters pay.
•         Create a Northern Forest from Liverpool to Hull with the aim of planting 50 million trees over 25 years: Spanning more than 120 miles between the cities of Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, the proposed Northern Forest will help boost habitats for woodland birds and bats and protect iconic species such as the red squirrel.
•         Securing extra protection for precious Ancient Woodland and veteran trees: New planning rules have at last given ancient trees and woods the highest possible protection from development.
•         Protecting our bees and other pollinators by helping secure an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoids pesticides: The UK voted in favour of the proposals that will see a ban on outdoor use of three neonicotinoids - Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam.
•         Creating 41 new Marine Conservation Zones around the UK: Safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ of protected areas to date.
•         Internationally protecting marine habitats with a Blue Belt to protect an area the size of India, including recently protecting 4m sq. kms of pristine waters around Ascension Island.

It is clear that tackling climate change is at the forefront of many people’s minds and I am pleased this is being taken extremely seriously by the government. Working with the Climate Change Committee, Government is taking advice on achieving net zero emissions across the economy. Many MPs have pushed for this with strong support from their constituencies.

Tackling Climate Change:

•         The UK has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 2010, faster than any other G20 country.
•         The UK was the first country to phase out coal by 2020.
•         Invested £52 billion in renewable energy since 2010 with 400,000 people now working in low Carbon businesses.
•         2018 was the cleanest and greenest year with renewable resources supplying a third of our electricity, up from just over 6% in 2009.
•         The Government has established the International Climate Fund (ICF) to provide £5.8 billion to help the world's poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth.
•         Encouraging Greener Homes by bringing an end to fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025 and ensuring new housing developments deliver environmental improvements locally and nationally by using the ‘net-environmental gain principle.’

As we exit the EU, there is an exciting opportunity to rethink our land use policy through the Agriculture Bill ensuring farmers are paid for the delivery of public goods. The Fisheries Bill will ensure we have a sustainable fishing industry post-Brexit.

In a game-changing moment, demonstrating this Government’s true commitment to the environment, the Chancellor announced a whole range of measures in the recent Spring Statement. Foremost is a new global review to assess the economic value of biodiversity globally so we know what action is needed to take to restore our precious environment which has suffered such a catastrophic decline in recent decades. This could do for the Environment what the Stern Report did for Climate Change. In addition, we will enhance environmental standards through the forthcoming Environment Bill and establish a world-leading, green governance body – the Office for Environmental Protection – to uphold environmental legislation.

Tackling poor air quality through the Clean Air Strategy; banning petrol and diesel cars by 2040, investing millions in greener public transport, electric and hydrogen vehicles.

The Government is demonstrating a genuine commitment to leaving the Environment in a better state than we found it. Whilst many positive steps have been taken, I realise there is much more to do and the urgency of addressing this has certainly been stressed to me by many individuals and groups that I have met with.  Rest assured I understand this message which is so important for future generations. Climate Change has no boundaries and it is important that it is tackled worldwide. I continue to work on this agenda and  with environmental charities such as Surfers against Sewerage who have done do much to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans and have mobilised thousands of volunteers removing tons of plastics from the sea and shore line. My office is St Austell also regularly organise litter picks and I welcome all who will come and join us. More information can be found in my regular newsletter. You can subscribe here:

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Campaign reply - Proroguing Parliament, Suspending parliament and Stop no Deal Brexit.

A number of constituents have sent me campaign emails entitled variously Proroguing Parliament, Suspending parliament and Stop no Deal Brexit. All have the same wording in the body of the email and emanate from 38 degrees org.

The debate over leaving the EU has been contentious and I have genuine respect for those who would rather see us stay in the EU. The referendum settled that and Article 50 passed by an overwhelming majority of the House sets out that we will seek a deal with the EU but if that proves impossible then we would leave with no deal. My preference is we find a deal that is fair to all. However the default must be that we are ready to leave with no deal should that prove unachievable – not least because it is a critical element of the negotiations that we are ready to do so.

Those that seek to delay or prevent the democratic decision of the 2016 referendum from being enacted are quite prepared to see Parliament, through the Speaker, overturn long established procedures of the House of Commons in order to achieve their aims. These same people seem horrified when those who seek to respect the referendum result consider doing likewise.  

Whilst I  would not want to see any decision to prorogue Parliament taken lightly, the government must have all means at its disposal to ensure the referendum result is honoured.

Campaign response – Please support Open Doors' three calls for persecuted Christians worldwide

Thank you to constituents who have written to me about the need for the UK government to press on with its work on persecuted Christians worldwide, following publication of the Bishop of Truro’s report on the matter earlier this week.

I am proud to stand with and speak up for all those who are persecuted because of their faith. I have made public my support for Open Doors’ campaign three calls for persecuted Christians worldwide ( and have kept a close eye on the progress of the report ever since it was announced by the Foreign Secretary in December. I have had meetings with the Bishop of Truro to discuss this matter and attended the launch of the interim report earlier this year.

I am in total agreement with the three calls that constituents have drawn my attention to, and believe that much more needs to be done to both raise awareness of the seriousness of religious persecution and ensure that the FCO response, here in the UK and locally in countries where persecution takes place, is more robust.

I would be more than happy to speak to both Conservative leadership candidates and to ask them to give firm commitments on this issue.


A number of constituents have sent a campaign email entitled " PLEASE DON’T LET OUR COUNTRY BECOME A NO DEAL, SLAVE DEAL STATE".

The title alone and following content belie the sentiment expressed in as much as a series of bizarre  propositions are given as facts and then draconian conclusions drawn from those false assertions. Conspiracy theories on leaked communications abound and whilst the government is intent on establishing the source it is right to ignore the completely unfounded allegations.

If any further proof were needed that the UK remains committed to leaving the EU - deal or no deal - then look at the result of the recent EU elections. Surely the clearest possible and democratically reliable indicator of the will of the people as pro leave parties disrupted the polls with sweeping gains in excess of those who would have us remain.  The notion that there will be civil unrest if we leave fails to grasp that whilst I doubt that scenario,  the real risk of such would be in thwarting the will of the people and not leaving the EU.

The right and proper action for Parliament to take is to honour the result of the referendum and ensure we leave the EU. Article 50 long since passed by the House with an overwhelming majority set out we would seek a deal with the EU and in the event that proved impossible then we would leave with no deal.

No deal or WTO terms (as it should be rightly referred)  leaves us free to continue trading across the globe and develop  our own trade terms worldwide. Our EU neighbours will want to trade with us too and no doubt a deal will be agreed in due course.

Campaign reply - DBC event

A number of constituents have written to me and asked if I am able to attend an event in Parliament and meet representatives from the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) on 16 July.

This reception will launch the latest report from the Consortium - 'The impact of welfare changes on disabled people'. The DBC is a national coalition of over 80 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.

This is an area that is of interest to me, and I will endeavour to attend this reception, Parliamentary business allowing, and look forward to finding out more about this important issue.

Campaign reply - 'Strengthen the Safety Net '

I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents about funding for children services at local authorities as part of the Strengthen the Safety Net campaign.

The decisions on budgets for all services run by local authorities, including Cornwall Council, are rightly local decisions made by councillors and officers.

Clearly there are many pressures on public spending and ever increasing demand in a number of areas including this one.

Ultimately the decision on the level of funding for these services is a matter for Cornwall Council within their £1.4billion budget.

Clearly we want to see children's services properly funded within the overall level of funding available but it is for Cornwall Council to set the Budget responsibly, which Councillors have a chance to vote on every year.

I would also advise that you contact your own Cornwall Councillor, who will be able to feed in direct to this process.

You can find out who your Cornwall Councillor is by following the below link:

I hope this is helpful in outlining my position on this matter and giving further steps that residents can take to highlight this with Cornwall Council.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Newspaper column 10 July 2019 - More funding for Cornwall's heritage

As the heatwave continues, last week saw a number of events that I took part in both locally and in Westminster as your Member of Parliament, as well as some great announcements for Mid-Cornwall.

In Parliament I co-hosted and spoke at the Faith and Society All Party Parliamentary Group event, looking at the issue of loneliness. Loneliness is a major and growing challenge across the country and faith communities can provide part of the solution.

I was thrilled to see the success of St Dennis Primary Academy’s bid for funding, which I have worked with colleagues in Westminster to ensure an announcement was made on ahead of the summer holidays. Their success in getting £300,000 combined with £100,000 local funding from the Cerc St Dennis Community Fund, will undoubtedly have a major positive impact on children in St Dennis and the surrounding communities.

Over the weekend I was honoured to join councillors in Newquay for the annual civic parade and service, and also call into VetFest at Lanescot in Par to support our armed forces and veterans, hopefully the first of many!

On Friday another one of our Cornish campaigns had a positive outcome, as Communities Minister, Lord Bourne, speaking at the UK National Minority Summit in Cornwall announce that the Government is giving another £200,000 to promote our Cornish language, heritage and culture.

The funding will help deliver Cornish language education for adults and young people, tackle barriers to education around the traditions and heritage of Cornwall, and provide media and technology opportunities for learners and speakers of Cornish.

This is in recognition of Cornish culture's unique place in the nation and will help the delivery of Cornish language and education, and provide media and technology opportunities for learners and speakers of Cornish.

This is something that myself and the other Cornish MPs have worked for, and which I have raised a number of times in Parliament, as recently as last week. I am delighted to see the funding announced.
I will now work with Cornwall Council to ensure that the funding is spent sensibly, for the lasting benefit of this and future generations.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. The office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary). If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please, either visit the office or contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Monday, 8 July 2019

Campaign response: One million children trapped. We must protect them

Recently some constituents have written to me to draw my attention to the plight of civilians and in particular the children in Syria who are fearing for their lives as Assad’s government forces closes in rebel-held territories in the province of Idlib. They ask for my assurance that I would do all that I can to speak up and support Syrian children trapped in war.

I am happy to inform constituents that I am more than happy to lend them and children in Syria my support. I am very much concerned about the current escalation of violence in Idlib, and appalled by reports of attacks on innocent civilians in schools and hospitals.

The UK has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis and continues to be one of the largest international donors, having now committed more than £2.8 billion since 2012. Across Syria and the region, UK aid has provided over 27 million food rations, over 14 million medical consultations, and over 10 million vaccines since the conflict began.

I have repeatedly spoken up in favour of our aid and humanitarian efforts to assist countries such as Syria, and will continue to do so.

In March the FCO announced that the UK will step up its humanitarian contribution to the conflict in Syria by pledging an additional £100m which will go towards:
  • Helping vulnerable Syrians access clean drinking water;
  • Delivering food, clothing, tents, hygiene kits and other essential survival items to those in need;
  • Providing access to medical care, including vaccinations against deadly diseases and counselling for those traumatised by the conflict; and
  • Helping Syrian refugees find jobs and access education.

I welcome this latest announcement and will continue to monitor the impact of our aid to Syria to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency.

Additionally, many civilians including children have been made refugees as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria.

In general, refugees are best helped when they are able to find places of sanctuary in the region close to their homes, in order that they may return to the their country after the war, which is the desire of the vast majority of Syrian refugees according to the UNHCR.

However, a small number of the most vulnerable refugees will need to be resettled in countries away from the region for their protection. The UK Government is committed to resettling 23,000 refugees from the region (including 3,000 unaccompanied or vulnerable children and their families) by 2020 and is on track to meeting that commitment. In June the Home Secretary announced that as a result of the success of the Syrian resettlement programmes, it will be aiming to welcome another 5,000 – 6,000 refugees by 2021.  

Ultimately what we need to resolve the conflict in Syria is a political solution between the two sides. In the Commons on Wednesday the Prime Minister confirmed that in her meetings with the Turkish and Russian presidents she reiterated her concerns about the need to come to a peace settlement in Syria and raised specific concerns about the situation in Idlib and the need to ensure there is a de-escalation in the province.

I will continue to monitor closely the situation in Syria and the UK Government’s response, and speak up for the most vulnerable, oppressed and persecuted victims of the humanitarian situation in Syria.  

Campaign response – Please vote against abortion amendments next week

In recent days a number of constituents concerned about proposed amendments to liberalise and extend abortion provision in Northern Ireland, which may be debated and voted on at the second reading of the Northern Ireland bill this week.

I understand what an important issue Abortion is for many people. This is an incredibly delicate area of law and, regardless of the views of individual MPs, one which is treated with the utmost rigour.

While my views as a pro-life MP are well known to constituents, I believe a more important issue to consider when it comes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland is how we respect the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.

The legislative process in Northern Ireland has been devolved since the creation of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. Abortion laws in Northern Ireland is a domestic policy issue that primarily affects the people of Northern Ireland. 

Recent polling shows that two-thirds of women in Northern Ireland (and 70% of 18-34 year olds) believe that the law on this issue should be a decision for the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives, and is not for Westminster to decide.

In May the Women and Equalities Committee released two separate reports following their Inquiry into abortion law in Northern Ireland.

It is important to note that close to 90% of the submissions to the Inquiry did not want Westminster to change the law on abortion in Northern Ireland.

It is also worth noting that the Northern Ireland Assembly has considered the issue of abortion more recently than any other parliament in the United Kingdom. In 2016, a cross-community vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly upheld the law on abortion as it currently stands.

While abortion campaigners have been focussing on changing the law in Northern Ireland, their proposals would also introduce radical changes to abortion legislation in England and Wales, removing most of the current legal safeguards around abortion. This is out of touch with the views of the British public, with polling showing strong support across a number of policy areas for more safeguards around abortion: (

In my view the UK Government should not undermine Northern Ireland’s devolved status by imposing any change to abortion law in Northern Ireland.

I will continue to oppose any move by Westminster politicians override the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland, but instead encourage the government to focus its efforts on the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Campaign reply - ‘Please write to DWP to end the £3.5 billion Pension Credit scandal’ .

A number of constituents have recently contacted me as part of the campaign ‘Please write to DWP to end the £3.5 billion Pension Credit scandal’ .

I am committed to ensuring that older people receive the support they are entitled to, so they can enjoy dignity and security in their retirement. That is why I am glad the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) engages with people who may be eligible to benefits at pivotal stages, such as when they claim State Pension or report a change in their circumstances.

The DWP uses a wide range of channels to communicate information about benefits to potential customers, including information on, in leaflets and by telephone. DWP staff in Pension Centres and Jobcentres including visiting officers are able to provide help and advice about entitlement to benefits, as are staff in Local Authorities who administer Housing Benefit. People can also use the Pension Credit calculator ( to check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive. People wishing to claim Pension Credit can do so by calling 0800 99 1234.

One of the best ways to reach eligible customers is through trusted stakeholders working in the community, which is why the DWP developed the Pension Credit toolkit as an online tool for them to use in order to encourage take-up.

The toolkit contains resources for anyone working with pensioners and includes guides to Pension Credit. It also contains publicity material and guidance designed to help older people understand how they could get Pension Credit and help organisations support someone applying for Pension Credit as well as ideas for encouraging take-up. The toolkit also provides links to information about disability and carers benefits.

The DWP is forecast to spend over £120 billion on benefits for pensioners in 2019/20, this includes over £99 billion of expenditure on the State Pension. The Triple Lock will stay in place for the remainder of this Parliament, guaranteeing that up to the full amounts of the basic and new State Pensions will rise by the highest of average earnings growth, price inflation, or 2.5 per cent and in 2019/20 the increase was 2.6 per cent. The full rate of the basic State Pension will be worth over £1,600 more in 2019/20 than in 2010 in cash terms - £675 more than if it had been increased only in line with earnings. From April 2019, the Standard Minimum Guarantee in Pension Credit has also been increased by earnings. This will be the equivalent of over £1,800 per year higher in cash terms for single people and over £2,700 per year higher in cash terms for couples than it was in 2010.
Most recently the DWP has provided a fact sheet to relevant organisations about Pension Credit and the recent changes for mixed age couples to ensure that accurate information is available in the places where people are most likely to seek information.

I hope this reassures constituents of the efforts being made to encourage people to find out if they are eligible for Pension Credit, but I will continue to engage with the DWP and follow this issue very closely.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Campaign reply - Obesity Health Alliance parliamentary reception

A number of constituents have written to me and asked if I am able to attend an Obesity Health Alliance parliamentary reception this week looking at measures that help make healthier choices easier.

This is an area that is of interest to me, particularly with the recent figures released that highlight obesity as now the biggest cause of cancer in the UK.

I will endeavour to attend this reception, Parliamentary business allowing, and look forward to finding out more about this important issue.

Newspaper column 3 July 2019 - PACE

Last week, I travelled to Strasbourg, France as part of a delegation of British parliamentarians to attend a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). I was first appointed to the PACE by the Prime Minister last year, as the first ever Cornish MP member of the Assembly. The Council of Europe is an international organisation bringing together European leaders and politicians to work together to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Not to be confused with the European Council, the Council of Europe is not part of the European Union, and unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make or impose binding laws on member states.

The idea of creating an international body to rebuild and maintain peace was first set out by the late and great Sir Winston Churchill in 1943, when Britain and most of the continent were still engulfed in a war the scale of which the world has never seen. Over the past seven decades, the Council of Europe has played a vital role in promoting and protecting basic human rights and the rule of law – From abolishing the death penalty across Europe to establishing the European Convention and Court of Human Rights. Following years of campaigning from Cornwall, in 2014 the Council of Europe granted official national minority status to the Cornish people under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which continues to be the main vehicle through which we push for genuinely equal recognition with other minorities in the UK. After Brexit we will continue to work with our European neighbours as part of this important organisation.

As the Council celebrated its 70th anniversary this week, the PACE had the opportunity to debate and vote on a resolution to restore the voting rights of the Russian delegation, a matter which has received much international attention lately. As a result of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, their delegation were stripped of their voting rights in the PACE. In retaliation, the Russian delegation has not participated in PACE sessions since 2016, and since 2017 has stopped paying its obligatory annual contribution to the Council.

During an 8 hour debate on this subject on Monday evening, I argued that if we were to roll out the red carpet for the Russians, we would be meeting their demands for an unconditional return to the Council of Europe, when it is Russia who should be meeting the demands of the Council for their actions in Ukraine and more recently on British soil, changing their aggressive behaviour internationally and domestically. It was argued by some in the Council that allowing the Russian delegation to return to the Assembly would give us a chance to engage with, perhaps even criticise them directly. But Russia has shown no indication that it is willing to change its ways, to be a responsible member state and pay their outstanding dues to the Council.

Despite opposition from the British, the Ukrainians and several Baltic countries, the resolution was passed 118-62. I returned to the UK on Wednesday evening with a sense of disappointment, knowing that the latest capitulation to Russian pressure sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about the credibility of the Council of Europe and sets a dangerous precedent for engaging with states with little regard to peace, the rule of law and democracy. However, there are many other avenues through which the UK will continue to apply pressure on Russia, such our diplomatic, financial and trade sanctions regime which will continue to be in force after we leave the European Union. In Parliament, I will continue to speak up against Russian aggression and work to ensure that Russia is playing by the rule book of the international community.

On a personal note, it was also a very special day for our family on Saturday as our youngest son Jacob got married to Danielle Bazeley, at Lusty Glaze beach in Newquay. Anne and I want to say a big thank you to all our family and friends, as well as the staff at Lusty Glaze, who helped us make it such a great day.